After eliminating the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals on Monday night with a 6-3 victory, the Nashville Predators earned the franchise’s first every trip to the Stanley Cup Final, which is set to begin on Monday, May 29th in Pittsburgh. The Preds run to the Cup was no fluke as all three units are responsible for their success. A balanced offensive attack, major point production from their blue-line corps, and a red-hot goaltender. The Predators have seven players on their roster with double-digit points, which leads all NHL clubs. Their top line of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson has been terrific (38 points collectively), while their top four defensemen have contributed an amazing 39 points as a group. Unfortunately, they’ll have to go the rest of the way without Johansen and their second-line center and captain, Mike Fisher, is listed as day-to-day.
A lot of successful Cup runs is directly related to how well your goaltender does, and Pekka Rinne is standing on his head, so to speak. The Finnish-born netminder leads all playoff goaltenders in goals against average (1.70), save percentage (.941), wins (12), and is tied for the lead in shutouts (2). There is no question that Rinne is the front-runner for the Conn Smythe trophy given to the league’s most valuable player in the 2016-17 playoffs. The Predators need just four more wins and there will be a historic parade down the streets of Nashville. Tennessee is the only state with at least three major sports teams and no championships. That could all change in the next week and a half.